5 Simple Ways to Save Money by Winter-Proofing Your Home

It’s winter in Florida so you may think winter-proofing your home is not necessary in our warmer climate. Not so fast! Taking the time to assess your home to be sure it’s ready for the colder weather can keep more of your dollars in your pocket.

5 Easy Ways to Save Money by Winter-Proofing Your Home

Sure, we’re not as cold for as long as our neighbors to the north, but we still need to be ready. Even if it is only for a couple of months. Here are 5 really easy ways to save money by winter-proofing your home.

Money Saver #1: Find the Drafty Holes

On a breezy day, walk around holding a lit incense stick or even a candle and hold it up to windows, outlets, recessed lighting, and door jams. If the smoke or flame starts moving, you know you have a leak.

Patching up your leaks by using door sweeps, caulk, and outlet gaskets will keep cold from creeping into your home. It’ll also help keep out the Florida bugs in the summer. And who doesn’t want that!

Money Saver #2: Check your Insulation Levels

The industry standard is having at least 12 inches of insulation in your attic. Don’t worry about measuring your insulation to check. Just look in your attic and if you see your ceiling joists, you don’t have enough. Ceiling joists are typically at most 10-11 inches. If you do decide to add more insulation, be sure to add the kind that doesn’t have the paper backing which will act as a moisture barrier. This can cause future moisture problems within the existing insulation.

Money Saver#3: Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

This is a tip that’s easily forgotten. When you turn your fan’s switch to the winter function it works to push warm air back down and keep it circulating. This saves on your heating bill. It’s ready for winter when it turns clockwise.

Money Saver#4: Wrap Any Exposed Pipes

A burst pipe is a huge and costly problem. To prevent this, see if you have any pipes that flow through garages, crawlspaces, or basements. If so, wrap them with foam or rubber sleeves to keep them protected. We don’t have too many freezing nights in Florida, but when they do show up – you want to be ready.

Money Saver #5: Check Your Alarms

This may not seem like a winter-proofing item, but with so many fires happening when homes are trying to stay warm on cold nights; it’s essential to be sure that your smoke detectors are working properly in case of an emergency.

These items may or may not cost you any money upfront, but they most certainly will save you money by keeping your heater from running continuously or simply by preventing a devastating and costly disaster from happening in the future.

If you have any winter-proofing tips, leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear what you do!

Summer Is Here! Is Your Patio Ready for the Outdoor Fun?

Here in Florida, summer’s what we live for! The beaches, warm breezes, pool parties, and entertaining outdoors is what we wait all year to enjoy.

It doesn’t really matter where you live, or how long or short your summer is. All that matters is we get one. Happy Dance!! And the perfect way to enjoy this season is to spend time outside. But is your outdoor space ready for the fun?

How to Make Your Patio Ready for the Summer

Do sweat the small stuff

Since most Floridians leave their patio furniture out year round, those tables and chairs will most likely need some TLC before sending out invites to your next backyard party.

A buildup of dirt and debris dulls the finish and shortens the life of patio furniture. Use a damp cloth to wipe off “the gunk.” If the accumulation requires more work, use a few drops of dish soap in a bucket of water, and a scrub brush. Depending on how long it’s been between cleanings, you may need to blast the furniture with a power washer. If so, we feel your pain.

Anything that appears unsafe or broken should get tossed in the trash. Then, check the bolts and screws and tighten any that need it. For moving parts and hinges, a couple of squirts of a lubricant, such as WD-40 or an all-purpose oil will quiet any squeals.

Check Your Cushions

To avoid embarrassing situations like your mother-in-law getting up from her chair to at the barbecue with dirt stains on her hiney, you’ll better pay attention to those nasty patio furniture cushions.

Remove the cushion covers and launder them. The cushions should be attended to with a vacuum, according to Bob Vila of This Old House fame. After you suck out the debris, scrub them clean with a solution of 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid in a gallon of warm water.

Got mildew? Vila suggests adding one-quarter cup of borax (an all-natural mineral powdered product) to the solution and allow the cushions to soak for 15 minutes. You can even use the borax for mildew stains on the covers, depending on the material (check the labels).

Then, run the hose over the cushions to rinse off the solution and allow them to air-dry. Don’t rush to put the covers on until the cushions are completely dry, or you’ll end up creating more mildew.

Check for Damage Like Rust

Humidity is great for our skin but takes a toll on our metal patio furniture. The Family Handyman has several suggestions for how to rid the furniture of the red/brown stuff:

Rust Remover

Ah, rust remover products. With ingredients such as hydrochloric or phosphoric acid, how can we go wrong?

Well, when the instructions caution you to wear goggles, a respirator mask and gloves, you know this stuff isn’t to be taken lightly.

If  you’re ok with chemicals, head to the paint department of your favorite home improvement store and buy rust remover, such as Rust-Oleum® Rust Reformer, Krud Kutter or one of the “4 Best Liquid Rust Removers” recommended by Popular Mechanics.

And, do follow every word of the instructions on the label to avoid any accidents, injuries, or further damage to the furniture.

By the way, our friend, handyman.com says that there are “newer nontoxic and acid-free soaking solutions, such as Evapo-Rust” (which he got at an auto parts store).

Rust converter

Of all the terms homeowners learn; “rust converter” is probably the most unfamiliar. Rust converter can be either an aerosol spray or a liquid that you brush on, like paint.

“It kills the rust, prevents its spread and dries into a ready-to-paint primer,” according to the Handyman. Prep the surfaces by rubbing with a wire brush and then spray or brush on the product. When it dries, you can either paint the surface or, as the handy guy recommends, apply another primer and then paint.

Cleaning patio furniture is a lot of work, but well worth it when your summer soirees are the talk of the town . . . or at least the neighborhood.